7 Essential Habits of Incredibly Happy People

Make these commitments to increase your happiness and improve your life.

In her book ” The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,” University of California-Riverside professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky explains how each of us has the ability to attain greater happiness.

According to her research, 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genetics. Each of us is born with a genetically determined happiness “set point” says Lyubomirsky. Life circumstances, such as where we live, our marital status, our physical appearance, and our levels of wealth and health, have little bearing on our happiness – only 10 percent!

The good news? Lyubomirsky says the remaining portion of our happiness – 40 percent – is within our control. Here are seven different ways you can consciously boost your happiness.

Nurture your relationships

There’s no denying the value of a strong professional network. In fact, the most successful professionals are often adept at networking. However, the personal connections you make offline are just as invaluable. People who maintain five or more close friendships tend to be happier, live longer and have a higher quality of life.

Make time to visit with friends and loved ones. It may be convenient to text, email or tweet, but the happiest people make a point to nurture their close relationships face-to-face. Pick up the phone, call your best friend, and schedule a coffee date ASAP.

Actively pursue your goals

When was the last time you thought about your long-term goals ? According to David Niven, author of “100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life,” those who could identify a goal they were pursuing were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves.

Take some time this week to write down your goals. Then, break your goals into smaller, more manageable chunks so you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Click on the following link for more tips on goal-setting.

Help others

According to studies, giving back to the community has the power to boost your happiness and the happiness of those around you. It doesn’t matter whether you regularly do community service or randomly perform acts of kindness. When you help others, you increase your self-confidence and self-esteem and reduce your risk of depression. As an added bonus, volunteering is a great way to boost your job search.

Want to get involved in a cause you truly care about? Visit sites like VolunteerMatch.org and All for Good to find the right opportunity for you!

Let go of resentment

Forgiving and forgetting may be easier said than done, but experts say it’s a necessary step to achieving greater happiness. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you’re holding a grudge, you’re also holding on to negative emotions that are standing in the way of your own happiness. When you’re able to let go of your bitterness and embrace forgiveness, you’re freeing up more space for positive emotions. Unsure how to begin this healing process? Check out Huffington Post’s article on the best way to get over a grudge.

Express your gratitude

A survey by Ladders found that saying thank you isn’t just a polite gesture – it’s an essential part of the interview process. However, showing gratitude does more than simply boost your job search. Those who regularly reflect on the things they’re thankful for sleep better, feel more alive and are overall happier. According to Robert Emmons, UC Davis psychologist and author of ” Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” simply keeping a gratitude journal where you document moments for which you’re thankful can considerably improve your well-being and life satisfaction.

Take the first step to expressing more gratitude by participating in Huffington Post’s 10-day gratitude challenge and see how it affects your outlook on life. Click on the following link to read more about the science behind gratitude.

Get moving

It’s no surprise that exercise can improve your health, but did you know that it also has the ability to increase your long-term happiness? Studies have found that regular exercise can relieve stress, release endorphins, boost your immune system and improve your mood. If your crazy workload has usurped your exercise routine, now’s the time to get yourself back on track. Don’t have time for the gym? Check out Forbes’ list of exercises you can do at your desk.

Stop trying to “have it all”

It’s difficult for high achievers to accept the fact that they can’t have it all. But the simple truth is you can’t excel in every role you take on at the same time. In fact, research shows that those who attempt to get it all done – work, play, family, et al. – are at a greater risk for depression due to the increasing pressure they put on themselves. Instead of trying to have it all, Barnard College president Debora Spar recommends focusing on having what matters most.

Eric Sinoway, co-author of “Howard’s Gift: Uncommon Wisdom to Inspire Your Life’s Work,” agrees. As you progress in your career and life, more responsibilities and opportunities will come your way. At some point you’ll need to drop something to maintain your balance. The key, says Sinoway, is to consciously decide what to relinquish rather than accidentally let go of the most important item.

Want to learn more? Check out this cool infographic created by Happify, which breaks down the science behind happiness in easy to understand, tangible ways.